ANN ARBOR, Mich. -

University of Michigan is inviting people outside its walls to join a research funding effort that's jumpstarting ideas and collaboration among professors.

Officials at the Ann Arbor school say they are announcing on Friday the expansion of the "MCubed" program, which started last year. The project allows an individual or group with $75,000 to post an idea or challenge and engage with professors who want to tackle it.

The program offers an alternative to government funding or other forms of private investment. Potential examples include a family enabling unconventional research into a disease or supporters launching an art-preservation project through digital media.

MCubed executive committee chairman Mark Burns says people with "a passion for a particular area" can tap the university's knowledge for far less money than the usual methods.